Wendy Poling
Frequent Contributor

Celebrating the Christmas season for many military families means a time to stretch out of our comfort zone and get creative! This is especially true if we find out our loved one might only be getting 96 hours of leave, or find out that even though they will arrive home from deployment in time for Christmas, they have duty on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Not mention they may actually be deployed during Christmas. Trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas and make the most of a difficult situation can be very difficult and seemingly impossible.

Here are 7 tips to celebrating Christmas military style!


  1. If your spouse happens to have duty the day of Christmas take a deep breath and try to celebrate a day early (or the day after)! Go all out with your decision and make the most of this new "Christmas date". After all, as military spouses we are used to celebrating anniversaries and birthdays days or weeks ahead of time or even after the fact! The date is just a day on the calendar; don't let it stop you from having the celebration you want.
  2. If you only get 3 or 4 days of leave and family is a days drive away, request they come visit you this year!! Spending two days on the road for two days with family will result in feeling overtired when you arrive and exhausted when you return home. Leave should include time to rest and recover. Consider your options and talk with your extended family to figure out what might be possible.
  3. If your spouse is far from home and scheduled to return after Christmas, leave the tree up and celebrate upon their return! February is still a fine time to open presents under the tree with Christmas music playing. Have a small celebration on Christmas morning with a couple gifts to open, but save the big celebration for when your loved one comes home! Let the kids open their gifts from Santa and save the rest for the return.
  4. Sometimes after a big move back stateside after living overseas we can find ourselves missing certain traditions we began in our overseas location. It's okay, go ahead and incorporate some traditions that you celebrated at previous overseas duty stations into your stateside family's celebration! Get creative with the menu, decorations, and activities - adding whatever you missed from your overseas tour! This is a great way to introduce your stateside family to some new things you learned while living abroad.
  5. If you are stationed overseas and family is far away it is easy to feel extra homesick. It's not to late to connect with your "military family" at your overseas location and invite a few neighbors, fellow command members and spouses and even your "local national" friends over to your home to celebrate the holiday. Being surrounded by others and sharing in the reason for the season can lift your spirits. Make the celebration a potluck and have everyone pitch in when it comes to preparing the meal so you aren't doing everything. Have everyone make his or her family's traditional favorite side dish or dessert. The important thing to remember is to embrace your new situation and new friends even if your heart aches for the comforts of what you know as familiar holiday traditions.
  6. If your spouse will be deployed this Christmas, try scheduling a "Skype Date". When my spouse was in Afghanistan over the holidays this was how we celebrated Christmas. We had the laptop open on the living room coffee table and he was able to be part of the Christmas morning experience. The connection wasn't great, but it worked and we were just happy to spend a few precious moments with him on Christmas morning.
  7. Invite your single servicemembers from your spouse's section or unit over to celebrate with your family. Even though many will travel to be with their family over the holidays, far more will choose not to travel. It's important to remember, even if we are homesick and missing our family, we can still take comfort in the support of our spouse. Imagine if you were far from home for the first time away from family, young and alone. Give the gift of your home and hospitality to single servicemembers to help them feel the comforts of being around others and a home cooked meal during this holiday season.


How will your Christmas have a Military spin? Share you experience and tips with us so we can learn from each other!